Yahweh Was Not (Primarily) A Divine Warrior

Once in a while I check a reference in a text, and then find myself reading the whole book because I cannot put it down—such has been the case with Anne Moore’s Moving Beyond Symbol and Myth: Understanding the Kingship of God of the Hebrew Bible Through Metaphor. This is a revision of her doctoral dissertation from Clairmont in New Testament, and her effort to correct dated approaches to discerning what the “kingdom of God” metaphor would have meant in Jesus’ day. The major problem with previous studies, according to Moore, is that they ignore the diverse meanings of this metaphor in the Hebrew Bible, making it center solely on eschatology, and making the source of the kingship of God revolve around a common stock Ancient Near Eastern idea of a Divine Warrior. This latter point is what I think is worth sharing. Continue reading “Yahweh Was Not (Primarily) A Divine Warrior”

The Deuteronomistic View of History (Part 1)

[Note: I just finished my PhD coursework three weeks ago, and after a very rigorous semester in which my blogging sank to an all-time low I am trying to get back into it. One of my problems is that any topic I have decent knowledge of and is interesting enough that others would care to read about, I save for seminar and conference papers, and attempts at publishing—though I rarely get around to polishing papers enough to send off to journals. So, in an attempt to write more I will be doing a series or two in the area of biblical studies (with a lens for theological interpretation and theology), which is not my “area.” I also hope to do some amateur posts on philosopher’s like Henri Bergson, whom I have been reading lately—again, something interesting to me, but slightly out of my “specialization” (though that may be changing…). I also have to say that the prolific and quality writing of my friends on AUFS as of late, as well as all of the good discussions going on these days on blogs has not exactly motivated me to publish my own posts!]

In 1943 German scholar Martin Noth published a seminal thesis in biblical studies: the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings originally constituted a single work, edited by a single redactor, and have a unified style, content, and vocabulary. The theology of Deuteronomy (themes of one God [Deut. 4:35], one people [Deut 7:1-11], and one centralized location for worship [Deut 12:1-13]) colors the interpretation of Israel’s history from the Exodus until the exile into Babylon.[1] Continue reading “The Deuteronomistic View of History (Part 1)”

Last Minute Conference Collaboration

I will be reading two papers at the Midwest Region AAR meeting tomorrow (at Augustana College, Rock Island, IL), and would love to meet up for lunch with any AUFS lurkers if they will be there, or go see their papers if they are presenting. I would have posted something earlier this week, but I have been fighting a sickness and was not certain I would make it. I will begiving a paper entitled, “Christology After the Death of God: Incarnation and the Rise of Secularism” (Session 3:4, 10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.), in a session on the Incarnation with Even Kuehn and Nathan Crawford giving papers on Kathryn Tanner’s Christ the Key, with Samuel Chambers responding). I will be in another session giving a paper on John Milbank and Jeffrey Stout: “Theopolitics After Secular Liberalism, Theological Traditionalism, and Incomplete Pragmatism: Assessing Jeffrey Stout and Radical Orthodoxy” (Session 2:2, 8:30-10:15 a.m.).

3000 Years of Nonviolent Resistance

Here is a short but fascinating article by Judith Mahoney Pasternak
from the War Resister’s League, which identifies the first (known) workers strike in history (12th century BCE in Egypt), as well as snippets about US and UK unions in the modern period. I was previously unaware of the prominent role music has played in worker and/or union movements– “an important tactic in labor’s nonviolent toolbox,” as  Pasternak puts it. Many of the songs union workers wrote can be found in The Little Red Songbook. My education at two Wesleyan institutions made me aware of the role of hymnody in disseminating theological ideas among the masses (mostly miners, textile workers,  and other laborers–in the case of John and Charles Wesley), but I had not yet considered the historic role of music for labor activism. Can this be seen as a forerunner for (some forms of) rock ‘n roll?

If Schleiermacher Wrote “Amazing Grace”

This is unfair to Schleiermacher, and even does not represent the way I appreciate some of his ideas, but was fun to do nevertheless, since I am tired of reading right now. The changes are italicized.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a person capable of the infinite like me. 

I once was in a state of my absolute dependence being constrained,  now am absolutely dependent,

Was blind to my self, but now I have self-knowledge.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to intuit,

And Grace, my relative incapacity to feel the infinite relieved.

How precious did that God-consciousness appear,

The moment I first resolved to begin the process of ending the state of needing redemption

Influential Books: AUFS For the Uninitiated 5

This post is different from those of my comrades, because my studies have fallen more strictly within theological lines. Also, I want to note that I am here sharing, in a more personal manner, about books that have influenced how I do theology, rather than focusing on “positions” I hold (as some of the others have in fact done).

The first significantly influential book I read, as a sophomore in undergrad, was John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus. Many other books could have had a similar effect on me, but it was Yoder’s chapter entitled, “Justification by Grace Through Faith,” which destroyed my individualistic reading of the Christian tradition. With the illumination of the social nature of soteriology (reconciliation), Yoder also articulated my pacifist leanings, and pushed me over the edge into what I know as Christological pacifism (Incidentally, I did not grow up with pacifist tendencies. However, with a couple of years of intense study of scripture behind me, when 9/11 happened I somehow knew intuitively that I was against any response other than enemy-love, even though I had yet to rigorously think the issue through). Continue reading “Influential Books: AUFS For the Uninitiated 5”


[Update: the deadline has been extended to January 29]

17th Annual DePaul University Philosophy Graduate Student Conference

April 10th & 11th, 2010

Keynote Speaker: Bruno Bosteels, Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University

Questioning capitalism is no easy enterprise. Discourses interrogating capitalism have mirrored the trajectory of capitalism itself, proliferating in a variety of directions and spawning new conceptual and historical problems with each new decade of confrontation. This conference aims to open up a space of convergence and dialogue for disparate trajectories of critical reflection and practical response. Its title aims to emphasize not only capitalism’s global character—its relentless expansion beyond various geographical, cultural, and political “limits”—but at the same time its particularized and often discontinuous local effects—the subjects, practices, and increasingly micro-managed spaces it carves out en route.   Continue reading “CFP: GLOBALIZED CAPITAL: SUBJECTS, SPACES, AND CRITICAL RESPONSES”

“The Word of God Was Messing With Us”

One surprise I have found in reading Origen of Alexandria (c. 185-253 AD) is that he believes that there are intentional mistakes, impossibilities, and strange things inserted into the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures in order to conceal deeper meanings from the multitudes, and invite investigation from the wise. Origen’s allegorical interpretation of sacred scripture is well-known, but probably less-known is his contention that the divine inspiration of scripture was intentionally tricky. Consider the following quotations: Continue reading ““The Word of God Was Messing With Us””

Essential Texts for Systematic Theology


In a panel discussion on the differences in method between historical and systematic theology last week at my school (Marquette University), a certain respected and well-known historical theologian claimed the following to be the essential texts to learn, without which one limits the quality of their constructive theology:

  1. Third Meditation in Descartes’s Meditations (“Concerning God, That He Exists”)
  2. Kant (Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone).
  3. Hegel (Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion).
  4. Ernst Troeltsch (text still unspecified).
  5. Heidegger’s lecture on Heraclitus (where he speaks of ontotheology) and Being and Time.

This appears to me an unpredictably odd set of suggestions coming from a Roman Catholic historical theologian (and an avowed Augustinian), especially since it mostly consists in philosophy. I can understand this as a list of what to read in order to be able to understand modern theology, but the professor said explicitly that this is for “doing modern systematic theology.”

What alternate lists can we come up with? I suppose nothing lays your cards down like answering a question like this, so if anyone prefers rather to answer the question of essential texts for understanding, rather than doing, systematic theology, it is understandable. I will have to take some time to consider what I would list as the top five thinkers/texts for doing systematic theology (my list will probably come in the form of a comment).